August 29, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 19

All-day kindergarten explained

According to elementary school principals in the Medical Lake School District, parents are excited about all-day kindergarten in the upcoming school year.

Although not funded by the state this year, the two elementary schools in the district will begin all-day kindergarten. At the Tuesday, Aug. 27 school board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Pam Veltri said the district sacrificed a curriculum adoption to make it happen. Hallett Elementary will have three kindergarten classes and Michael Anderson Elementary will have four.

Hallett principal Cindy McSmith said she and Michael Anderson principal Darlene Starr attended an informative conference during the summer to help explain the benefits of all-day kindergarten. Namely, they mentioned the financial help it could provide families, instead of paying for half a day of child care, students are in class throughout the day.

A regular school day would increase from 2.5 hours to 6.5 hours, allowing a greater variety of programs and analysis to take place for students. Assessments and screenings throughout the year will also help show where young children are excelling or falling behind.

Director of teaching and learning Kim Headrick presented a first look at the 2012-13 state report cards for the district, showing broad test results from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Students will receive their individual scores sometime next month, showing where they succeeded on tests last year and where improvements can be made.

For the most part, Medical Lake is on par with other school districts in the Inland Northwest, despite its smaller size.

“There are lots of areas of growth, improving on last year’s results,” Headrick said. “Our results are in similar fashion with other area school districts.”

Medical Lake resident Mark Hudson spoke to the board regarding its decision last month to vote against having scientific criticisms of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution formally entered into the curriculum. He asked that a passive policy directed toward teachers would help provide the opportunity for students to ask questions on the theory, which could then lead to critical in-class discussions.

Having a passive policy in place, he argued, would fit in line with an October 2010 response from Dan Mueller. That policy would state that teachers’ jobs are safe if they engage students in critical discussions relating to Darwin’s theory of evolution and the origin of life. Hudson emphasized that the discussions must be secular, and not involve religion at any point, which has been his position since initially bringing the item to the board earlier this year.

During her report, Veltri said the high school’s baseball field saw 89 games played on it throughout the summer. While the field saw its fair share of wear and tear, she said the benefits from having Little League and American Legion baseball throughout the summer were strong.

“From a community standpoint, what a great thing,” she said.

At the end of the meeting, the school board went into executive session for 30 minutes to evaluate the qualifications of a candidate for appointment to elective office, potentially filling a vacant spot on the board. A final decision by the board will take place at the Tuesday, Sept. 24 meeting at 6 p.m. in the administration building.

James Eik can be reached at james@cheneyfreepress.com.

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